After this run, I find myself with two or three remaining sets of good parts, as well as some prototype cases I had milled from walnut. I look forward to building out these instruments when I have time to get back into the shop, so watch this space for info if you're looking for a Soundplane because I plan to put one or more them up for sale if they make the cut.
Right now, though, I am on a dive back into Aalto land, and I'm not coming out until the 1.6 version is ready. This will fix the bug with the preset converter in version 1.5, as well as many other issues. This won't be a "fancy new features" release, rather the result of a whole lot of work under the hood that should make everything more solid and efficient. You know, the kind of release you wish companies would devote more time to.
Apple just released a new version of MacOS called Yosemite. I haven't tried it yet because of the aforementioned Aalto work. I have heard a few rumblings about problems with window management in VST plugins. So for now, I would recommend that you not upgrade, unless you can't resist all the nice new eye candy, and you're not in the middle of a project. If you do try it out, please drop by the forums and let us all know how it's going.
The little boxes are a low-tech solution that has evolved over a few generations. The weighted bases let me grab parts out of them quickly without tipping them over very often. Sometimes it's the little things.
Here’s the grain on our new friend, up close. It’s performing wonderfully. My pictures never do justice to the shell inlays, which in real life are iridescent.
There is some particularly nice variety in this batch of cherry.
Cutting the veneer is a fun part of the process, where I get to decide what part of the crazy abstract walnut grain landscape to turn into each playing surface. This is done now, and the sandwich of materials that forms each Soundplane surface is ready to be laser-cut by our friends at Gurian Instruments here in Seattle.
You might wonder why Madrona Labs doesn't have a laser cutter, since they are such fun tools. The kind of laser cutter that can do the needed cuts through the surfaces is a big, expensive, and sometimes tempermental beast. To do that work with precision takes a lot of practice and I'm happy to have it done by experts.
Here are some of the new cherry enclosures with eyes awaiting final sanding and finishing. The wood has milled just great and is very smooth and dimensionally stable. I like the figure in the cherry very much, there are some nice waves and topographies going on and I’m excited to see how they pop when we put the finish on. Part of the charm of cherry is that it takes on a darker patina over time with light exposure and handling.
Thanks to my friends Alex and Erika we are the proud caretakers of a Shopsmith Mark V. I remember these being advertised on late-night TV long ago. Sort of a giant multi-tool with saw, drill press, lathe and boring capabilities. Turns out it's actually a good sturdy tool, much nicer than my loud old contractors' saw. It transforms into various configurations including a lathe, but I will probably leave it set up as a table saw most of the time.
And that's the news from the shop. The next couple of weeks are all about sanding and finishing the enclosures, then we can start in on the surfaces.
Hi there! For the past three months, I've been working on an update to Kaivo, and it's finally time to roll it out. I've tuned up the audio engine, improved the graphics and spent many hours finding and fixing a whole host of minor UI issues that made people including me go "grrrr" sometimes. Thanks as always for your support, and all the feedback you have sent my way about the 1.0 version. This 1.1 release is feeling buttery smooth here, and I hope it gives you many happy hours diving into sound.
Special thanks for making this release happen go to Don Solaris, who generously contributed some great factory patches. (If you happen to have a Waldorf Blofeld, check out his excellent "Analog Voltage" patches at the Waldorf website.) The new Import dialog is not reflected in the manual yet. But it should be pretty straightforward. In the future, I want to add some file combining magic here, but for now, it simply lets you pull up a file, listen to it, and it the file is longer than 8 seconds, pick the 8 second clip you want to import into Kaivo. If you have any questions, please stop into the forums and ask.
Soundplane application v.1.1 is now available at the usual spot in the hardware forums.
This is an interim release with a few important fixes to issues that cropped up in 1.0. It works with Aalto 1.0 and Kaivo 1.5.
Please note that I moved the zone configuration files to the new location ~/Music/Madrona Labs. You will have to move these files from their existing locations in ~/Library. Why did I do this? With Apple making your Library folders hidden by default, ~/Music is becoming the default location for various software makers to put things like patches and saved presets. Now I don't have to explain to people how to get to their Library folders. Sorry for any inconvenience.
Remember, this is open source software! All the code is viewable at github/madronalabs. I welcome your suggestions and contributions. Thanks to Greg Wuller for the note-off fix.
If you already know about Kaivo, you are probably ready to stop reading and head over to the product page. Feel free, the rest of this note will be here for you when you get back.
Today marks the release of this product I've been working on for two years, but only the start of its development. The current models only scratch the surface of what the underlying engine is capable of. I'll release some more models free of charge as time permits. I'm excited to hear what ideas Kaivo sparks when people really get into it, what new musical terrain it helps you explore.
I couldn't have done this without my peeps, so some shout outs are definitely due. Firstly to Eric Moon, who wrote the granulator and limiter, and put up gracefully with my many tuning requests. To Dan Godlovitch at U. Vic, who helped with the math. To George Cochrane, tech writer par excellence (now with adjustable metaphor dial). To David Chandler, for all the wonderful mutants. And to everyone who sent patches or samples or feature ideas, whether I had time to work them in or not.
Happy patching, and please keep sharing those crazy sounds and compositions via the Madrona Labs SoundCloud page.
Aalto 1.5 is out now. As always, you can get the release version by logging in and clicking “My Downloads,” and the demo at the Aalto product page. Version 1.5 has some major compatibility improvements for both Windows and Mac users. Performance should be dramatically improved on some Windows systems. I’ve improved the usability of the Patcher and dial UIs.
On Mac OS, if you have a Retina display, you are in for a treat. As always, you can smoothly scale Aalto to a wide range of sizes, or even zoom it to full screen. This new version has a new OpenGL-assisted renderer so graphics are amazingly sharp, at full Retina resolution, in compatible hosts. It may be “only a graphic thing” but I find this change means that using a tiny little Aalto window is now possible, which can really improve workflow on a laptop screen. (note: unfortunately Ableton Live does not yet support full-resolution rendering.)
Here’s the list of major changes in Aalto 1.5:
Visit the Madrona group on SoundCloud for many more!